Disabled people and drug abusers, like the rest of the population,
have to look for a job for 20 hours a week in order to qualify for
benefits in the Netherlands.
Yvonne Bieshaar, managing director of social services in the Dutch
town of Den Bosch, told delegates the policy was part of a new
social security system introduced over the past five years.
She said that people unwilling to try to find work would receive no
She added that the old system had made people too dependent on
benefits and caused them to become socially excluded.
The system was also expensive and open to abuse.
Under the new arrangements, private profit-making companies bid for
government contracts to run welfare services but are paid only if
their services improve clients’ situations.
Companies have to produce quarterly progress reports and ensure
that an independent complaints procedure is available for clients.
The government also conducts occasional investigations into client
Asked whether the system was sophisticated enough to ensure it
correctly separated those who were unwilling to work from those who
were unable, Bieshaar said there had been no complaints.